There are quite a few steps involved in the character creation business, and this post will be a quick look into the creative process.
First step is figuring out what kind of character you want. The requirement here was for a boss character that you would find lurking in a dungeon environment. That opens up a wealth of possibilies such as goblins, golems, rats, skeletons, wizards, suits of armour, etc. We decided we liked the idea of a headless knight, or possessed suit of armour, so I did a bit of research to generate some ideas for the design of our new character. I came upon the idea of a suit of armour dragging around a ball and chain and sketched what I thought this could look like for our game. It would be important to keep the style of the character similar to other things in the game to prevent this new character from appearing out of context.
Then I started some rough sketchy animation, just to get the feel of how he would move around. I wanted him to be relentless and purposeful, yet bogged down by the armour and ball and chain so his motion needed to feel as if he was straining forward.
(I discovered a nice formula for a 6 frame walk cycle where one leg is 3 frames behind the other in sequence, and the sequence is: Down, Back, Lift, Forward, Place, Contact, and then repeat. You can see it best in the brightly coloured legs).
Once I had the rough animation done and looping nicely, I went on to refine the lines of each frame to be pixel perfect, and started to block in the outlines with colour. Then I added shadows and highlights on each part of armour to give depth to the character. This is the finished result of the walk cycle.
Now we needed an attack animation, so I researched clips of people lifting up something heavy and swinging it down – the best example of this was wood chopping. From there I isolated the important frames to give the feel of the action without having an excessive amount of frames (don’t want to spend ages shading 100′s frames).
The flashing numbers in the top corner represent what particular body part is being recycled – this way we don’t have to redraw similar looking parts, we can just find frames where they appear similar and reuse the part. As long as this technique is not overused, it will remain largely unnoticed.
And here is the finished result: